The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘Answers In Genesis’

Noah’s Ark Theme Park in KY: Bad Science & Bad Economics

Posted by mattusmaximus on December 17, 2010

I’ve recently found out that the state of my youth, good ol’ Kentucky, has decided to make a theme park based upon Noah’s Ark. You might think this is no big deal, and I would normally agree, except that the organization behind this new theme park, the creationist outfit called Answers In Genesis, wants to set up the Noah’s Ark attraction – known as Ark Encounter – as an expression of reality.  I’m sorry, but this kind of strikes me as trying to claim that Disney World is showing kids the “real” world… 😉

Okay, enough snark, let me be serious for the rest of the post.  I know that Kentucky is a state awash in Christian fundamentalism, along with all the things that go along with that – such as young-earth creationism (YEC). This is evidenced by the fact that Kentucky is host to the Creation Museum, which is devoted to advancing the “reality” of YEC as viewed by the Biblical interpretation put forth by Answers In Genesis (such as that humans & dinosaurs lived at the same time – yeah, like in “The Flintstones”!).  So this is fertile ground for creationism & all the associated pseudoscience that goes along with it, and the people behind the Noah’s Ark project know it.

In this post, I’m not going to argue that creationism is bad science, non-science, or just plain pseudoscience, though it clearly is all of those. Rather, I’m going to argue that – despite the claims by KY Gov. Steve Beshear to the contrary – establishing Kentucky as a state known for harboring & encouraging non-science is actually a bad thing economically for the Commonwealth.

The Governor argues that Ark Encounter will create many jobs, which is undoubtedly true.  It will require lots of people to work construction over the next few years to build it, and then of course there are the jobs created for those who will work in the park once it is complete.  However, as many critics have pointed out, the vast majority of that second class of jobs will tend to be low-skill, low-paying, and seasonal positions, many of which are likely to be part time…

Ark incentives: cheap jobs, poor state image

… Despite some progress in economic development, Kentucky continues to use tax incentives in pursuit of mostly low-paying, part-time seasonal jobs that would further lower the state’s average wage and do little to increase the demand of higher education. This is similar to past shortsighted subsidies of chicken processing plants and customer call centers.

We understand that even low-paying jobs are welcome while rebounding from a recession and heading into an election year.

But these incentives could have been awarded without Gov. Steve Beshear’s public embrace of an expansion of the Creation Museum — a project rooted in outright opposition to science.

Hostility to science, knowledge and education does little to attract the kind of employers that will provide good-paying jobs with a future. …

I have to agree with this criticism.  The fact of the matter is that if the Commonwealth of Kentucky wants to make good long-term economic development decisions, they need to foster an environment which encourages higher-paying jobs, a college & university-educated workforce, and – yes – an acceptance of & investment in science.  After all, modern science – evolution included – has yielded a host of technologies & economic development which has improved the standard of living for all of us drastically in the last couple of centuries.  Whereas creationist pseudoscience seems to be only good for producing reality-challenged theme parks that provide crummy jobs and encourages ignorance of science.

The bottom line is this, folks: real science & its associated discoveries, including evolution, creates new technologies which drives the economy, creating higher paying jobs, a better cost of living, and a more educated workforce.  If you want to do right by the economy, especially in the long term, encourage science & science education and invest in scientific research.  If the state of Kentucky continues on this path, then they shouldn’t be surprised when more lucrative, science-oriented companies & institutions look to base their operations elsewhere, taking the good jobs with them.

Too bad this lesson seems to be lost on Kentucky’s political leaders; they seem to be stuck on appeasing religious fundamentalists as a way of winning votes.  Too bad that won’t help solve the actual economic problem.

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Creationist Financing

Posted by mattusmaximus on June 4, 2010

I wanted to share with you a recent post I saw over at The Panda’s Thumb, a pro-evolution blog which keeps tabs on creationists. The nature of this post has to do with the finances behind various creationist organizations & how we need to provide more support to pro-science groups like the National Center for Science Education (NCSE)…

Creationist Financing

Todd Wood, a young earth creationist at Bryan College, provides summary data on YEC organizations’ finances over the 2003-2008 period. There are several interesting things about those data.

First, as Wood points out, AIG’s share of the creationist dollar grew over that period, from 61.6% ($9M) of the market in 2003 to 68.2% ($22.7M) in 2008. AIG’s growth in market share came at the expense of all the other YEC organizations, with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and and the Creation Research Society (CRS), the two elder U.S. creationist organizations, contributing most of the change. While ICR’s revenues also increased over those years, from $4,5M to $8.7M, as a percentage of the total creationist dollar it decreased from 30.6% to 26.2% and CRS’s percentage declined from 1.7% to 1.0% as its dollar revenues declined from $250K to $230K. The smaller YEC organizations also lost share.

Second, Eric Hovind, offspring of jailed tax evader Kent Hovind, entered the list in third place in 2008 with his “GodQuest” (DBA Creation Science Evangelism) at $930K for 2.8% of the creationism market, far behind ICR’s $8.7M but well ahead of CRS’s $230K.

Third (and pretty depressing to see), NCSE’s gross revenue as a percentage of AIG’s gross revenue has steadily declined over those years, dropping from 7.8% in 2003 to just 5.7% in 2008. In 2008, 85% of NCSE’s revenues ($1.1M of $1.3M) came from direct public support–memberships and donations from you and me. While the amount has increased in absolute terms over those years, as a proportion of creationist revenues it has dropped significantly. C’mon, people. Let’s put our money where our mouths are.

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Updates From the Evolution & Creationism Battle Lines

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 9, 2010

There’s been a lot going on lately on the battle lines concerning evolution & creationism. In fact, there’s so much happening that I just wanted to provide a quick summary of all that’s been transpiring lately.  Some of it is funny, some of it is sad, some aggravating, but it’s all informative and worth reading.  So, with that, read on…

1. First Annual UpChucky Awards Announced

Our friends over at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) have been having a little bit of fun pointing out some of the most recent and egregious errors & misrepresentations by creationists…

Which creationist was the most nauseating?

When it comes to dissing evolution (and science in general) there’s no lack of volunteers. How to decide which among them is the worst?

Enter the intelligently designed UpChucky Award, which recognizes supreme achievement in the field of persistently rejecting evolution in the most stomach-turning way imaginable. This crown of cluelessness, this diadem of density, this badge of bullpucky isn’t awarded to just any Darwin doubter. The UpChucky is bestowed on that one creationist whose efforts in the preceding year would inspire Darwin (or any rational person) to “drive the porcelain bus”.

Read on for more details…

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Posted in creationism, global warming denial | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Skeptics Visit the “Creation Museum”

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 14, 2009

I’m a Yankee by birth, but I was raised in beautiful south-central Kentucky.  Sadly, the state of my youth has become home to one of the worst insults to science & reason out there… the Creation Museum. This place is basically a “museum” for the fundamentalist Biblically literal interpretation of creationism, run by weirdo Ken Ham and the Answers In Genesis organization. Folks, it is pretty hard to wade deeper into the woo than to visit this place.

But that is exactly what evolutionary biologist PZ Myers did recently with a large group of skeptics – talk about entering the Lions’ Den!  I was so impressed with his documentation of the visit that I wanted to share it with you…

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